5-137 To Gilbert Darlington, May 16, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 16, 1945

Subject: World War II

To Gilbert Darlington1

May 16, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Mr. Darlington:

I am encouraged to learn from your letter to me of May 4 that you are strongly in favor of Universal Military Training. The opponents of such a measure apparently must favor a large Regular army to which the people of the United States have always been opposed and which I would deplore, even if it were a financial possibility, which it is not. Universal Military Training is absolutely necessary in my opinion if the citizen reserve force is to be effective, that is, to provide the country with adequate security.

Detailed study of the problem and the extensive experience we have had both with intermittent and continuous training periods leads directly to the conclusion that the training will be less burdensome and much less expensive, yet far more thorough and effective if it is given in one continuous period of a year rather than piecemealed over several years.

The War Department is aware of the desirability to have the training adjusted to family needs permitting the continuation of home ties, and would make every effort to permit young men engaged in such training to maintain frequent contacts with their families.

Answering your question regarding my comments on the Twenty-third Psalm, the incident I referred to took place in October of 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne battle. A very fine, I might say saintly character, Colonel James Shannon, on General Pershing’s staff at GHQ at Chaumont, while on an inspection of the fighting front, took over command of a regiment of the 28th Pennsylvania Division which was having very difficult fighting on the eastern edge of the Argonne. Shannon, in the front lines, was directing the fighting of his troops at Chateau-Thierry when he was struck by a bullet which, I think, injured his spinal column. He was moved to the rear to a hospital in the vicinity of the Army Headquarters where I was located, and he died shortly after arrival. I was told at the time that just before his death the chaplain was reading at his request the Twenty-third Psalm and when he got to that portion that referred to “He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul”, Shannon interrupted to say, “That is great stuff”, and very shortly after that, died.

Faithfully yours,


Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.


1. Darlington—treasurer of the American Bible Society in New York City, a navy chaplain during World War I, and a strong supporter of universal military training—had talked with Marshall at the dinner prior to the general’s April 4 speech to the Academy of Political Science. Several weeks earlier, Marshall had accepted the society’s invitation to become one of their sponsors; he noted that his favorite Bible verse was the Twenty-third Psalm. When Darlington asked why that was his favorite, Marshall told him the Colonel Shannon story in the letter printed here. Darlington subsequently wrote to ask that Marshall write down this anecdote for him. (Darlington to Marshall, May 4, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 191-192.

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